ORIENTAL Watch Group plans to seek a listing on the stock exchange later this year. Group financial controller Alain Lam said yesterday Standard Chartered Asia had been appointed to underwrite the share offering. The group operates six retail outlets in Mongkok, Causeway Bay and Central and is an authorised dealer for more than 100 different brand names. In the year ended March 31, the group posted a profit attributable to shareholders of about $46.5 million on a turnover of more than $900 million. Growth in business had been maintained at single-digit rate in the past three years as the market has become relatively stable. Mr Lam said the funds raised would mainly be used to finance the group's expansion in China. Chairman Yeung Ming-biu said the group would open its first retail outlet in China next month. The Shanghai outlet, a counter with an area of about 640 sq ft, will be located in the Shui Hing department store. A second shop, in Shenzhen, is expected to open in November. It will have an area of 850 sq ft. The move is seen as part of the group's strategy to establish a strong foothold in the China market, leading eventually to a retail chain in major cities throughout the country. Director Siu Leung-wai said profit margin of the mainland outlets would be higher than that in Hong Kong as labour costs and rent in China were cheaper. He said the mainland retail market was also booming; the huge population created a large market for watches. Apart from Shanghai and Shenzhen, the group has also started negotiations to set up outlets in Guangzhou, Shenyang and Zhaoqing. Meanwhile, the company has taken a 50 per cent stake in Eastfair Ltd, which has acquired a licence to manufacture and distribute watches under the Swiss Polar brand name in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia. The licence is for 10 years from June 1993 and is renewable for a further 10 years. In Hong Kong, the group plans to further strengthen its position in the retail market by opening additional counters in major department stores.